OGDEN — He offers a rapid-fire volley of numbers as assistants walking the floor scan the audience for bidders, barking and pointing when they spot a would-be buyer.
“I got 70 there, now 80, 90,” says Doug Taylor. “I got 100, now 10, now 20, now 30. I got 120, now 30. Sold for 120!”
It’s the weekly consignment auction at Taylor’s Ogden locale, Doug’s Auction, and after about 30 seconds of bidding, someone has just acquired a collection of 126 U.S. coins for $120.
He moves on to an empty cabinet for a big old-fashioned radio, the type people had before televisions, and the bidding is over almost as soon as it begins, reaching just $5. “I got 5. Seven-and-a-half? Sold for 5,” Taylor says.
Taylor marks his 60th anniversary as an auctioneer next month, and though he’s now 80, though the industry has morphed with the advent of the Internet age and online auctions, he has no intention of stopping. “I retired three times and always came back because I enjoy it,” he said.
Indeed, he figures he’s probably been at it longer than anyone else in Utah. “There’s been a bunch of them come and go. When everybody else goes, I’m still here,” he said.
Ronnie Snorgrass, executive director of the Utah Auctioneers Association, was mentored by Taylor and reckons Taylor’s claim of longevity is probably on the mark.
“I think he’s got the record... I can’t think of anybody who’s been active longer than Doug,” said Snorgrass, who’s based in Clearfield and has been at it for a relatively modest 24 years.
Taylor has auctioned land and autos, led estate auctions and more, traveling across Utah and into Wyoming as he’s plied the trade. He’s also conducted auctions as a volunteer on behalf of numerous charitable and non-profit organizations, helping them collectively raise millions of dollars, he estimates. His weekly gig, every Tuesday night, is the consignment auction, when he auctions off items brought to him by the public, earning a cut from each of the sales.
“I love the auction business. I love it and respect it,” he said.
100 FISHING POLES
Back at his auction house at 506 Washington Blvd., Taylor is at the podium, front and center. A sign behind him reads, “Your husband called, he said you could buy anything you want,” and a trumpet is on the auction block. About 50 are in the audience, some bidding, some just watching, waiting for other items.
“It do play. It do make noise,” Taylor says. The trumpet sells for $15.
A cast-iron pan fetches $28, a military-style footlocker sells for $7 and an 1890 Indian head penny gets $6. A plastic bin full of doilies and sections of linen and fabric comes up for auction, and Taylor scolds the audience for having made a mess of the material ahead of the auction as they perused it and other items. Whatever the case, it sells for $50.
“You know, it’s a crapshoot,” Jackie Henderson later says, carting off an old trike she acquired. Sometimes there are good deals, sometimes things you would have expected to sell cheaply spark bidding wars.
Sherrie Stites of the Nordic Valley area (and the new owner of a small bike meant for her grandchild) notes how addictive the auction can be, the thrill of bidding, the constant hope of getting a steal. “My husband’s a diehard... I think we need an intervention,” Stites jokes.
They are regulars, mainly at the prodding of her husband, a collector of old fishing poles. “He’s got at least 100 fishing poles,” Stites says.
‘IF IT’S MADE, I’VE SOLD IT’
Taylor marks his start as an auctioneer as July 8, 1959, when he finished auctioneering school in Beaumont, Texas, which followed a stint in the U.S. Air Force. He got into the business after suffering a back injury that had him worried he’d end up confined to a wheelchair. He figured it was a profession he could practice sitting down.
He overcame his injuries, though, was able to get out of the wheelchair. But he’s stuck with auctioneering. “If it’s made, I’ve sold it,” Taylor said.
He saw he had a way with sales, a way with people. “Just talk to people, care about people. Try to make it fun for everybody. If they’re not having fun, they’re not going to bid,” he said.
It’s tough, no doubt, but it’s helped him raise 13 kids and step kids with wife Joyce. Even with the advent of online auctions, sites like eBay, he maintains that traditional auctions like his have a place, where there are few limits on bidding, where people can see the things for sale live and in person, where the possibility of a good deal always looms.
“That’s why they come, to make a deal. They want to get a treasure for the right price,” he said.